BAM presents the New York premiere of Hotel Cassiopeia by Charles L. Mee, a SITI Company production directed by Anne Bogart as part of the 25th Next Wave Festival.
The second in a quartet of plays by Mee -- each of which explores the creative spirit through the work and lives of four singular American artists -- Hotel Cassiopeia meditates on the life of reclusive New York outsider artist Joseph Cornell. Upon its premiere at the 2006 Humana Festival in Louisville, KY, The New York Times called it a "visually stimulating fantasia...a haunting theatrical dreamscape."
Hotel Cassiopeia is not the story of Joseph Cornell's life; rather it is life from his perspective. Having spent his entire adulthood in Queens, NY -- living with his mother and caring for his disabled brother -- Cornell nevertheless envisioned a vast, fantastical world that he captured in his well-known boxes and three-dimensional collages. The play is structured around what Cornell called "sparklings," the spectacular moments when mundane details become transcendent. These moments are the focal points of his unique work, which seeks to endow the seemingly commonplace with profound meaning. Mee's play, like Cornell's work, creates a collaged perception of time and experience through an amalgam of poetry, movement, dance, video projections, and film. The result is a glimpse into the imagination of Joseph Cornell -- a world inhabited by the few people in his life, as well as the ethereal ballerinas, film stars, cut-outs of birds, shards of glass, and bits of newsprint that he avidly collected. These items are the trappings of a man in search of the perfect expression for some of life's quintessential themes: love, loss, and beauty.